Tabebuia impetiginosa


Taheebo, also known as pau d’arco, ipe roxo or lapacho, is a member of a large genus of trees indigenous to the tropical rainforest areas that reach from Mexico into northern South America. Most studies of the medicinal effects of the genus have been conducted on T. impetiginosa, which has been used locally for centuries to treat conditions ranging from bronchitis and malaria to fungal infections, rheumatoid arthritis and cancer. Lay reports show taheebo to be effective in the treatment of cancer, but scientific proof is needed to support this theory.

Parts used

The inner bark, which is dried.


The main active ingredients in taheebo are quinones, which combat bacteria, viruses and fungi, have anti-inflammatory properties, reduce pain, stimulate the immune system and are reputed to help fight cancer. One such quinone – lapachol – has been the most intensively studied. Other constituents of taheebo bark include iridoid glycosides, which have an antioxidant effect.

Medicinal uses

The compounds in taheebo have been shown to help destroy the micro-organisms that can cause diseases and infections.

Taheebo is prescribed to:

  • Stimulate the production of red blood cells in bone marrow, improving the oxygen-carrying capacity of the blood.
  • Stimulate the immune system, making it useful for people with chronic fatigue syndrome or HIV/Aids.
  • Its antioxidant properties have an anti-ageing effect on the skin.
  • Treat chronic bronchitis.
  • Treat Treat prostatitis (swelling and inflammation of the prostate gland). Taheebo fights bacteria such as E.coli, the most common cause of two types of prostatitis.
  • Fight pain.
  • Treat fungal infections, especially candida.
  • May help in the treatment of cancer.


Talk to your medical practitioner before taking any herbal supplements.
Although no serious side-effects have been reported after use, it is advised to avoid taheebo if you are taking anticoagulants, or are pregnant or breastfeeding.

Domestic & culinary uses

Taheebo tea
There are no known references to taheebo for any use other than as a medicinal herb, although it is taken as a herbal tea in some countries.


The tree grows widely throughout tropical South America, including Brazil, Paraguay and northern Argentina. It has a hard, durable and attractive wood that is extremely resistant to insect and fungal attack.

Photo credits

  1. © soultea.de (https://www.soultea.de/), Photographer André Helbig (https://andrehelbig.de/) ][CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons
  2. © soultea.de (https://www.soultea.de/), Photographer André Helbig (http://andrehelbig.de/) [CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons
Information in our herb library is intended only as a general reference for further exploration. It is not a replacement for professional health advice and does not provide complete dosage information, format recommendations, toxicity levels, or possible interactions with prescription medicines. Accordingly, this information should only be used under the direct supervision of a suitably qualified health practitioner such as a registered homeopath, naturopath or phytotherapist.